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ESPN explains position on Roethlisberger

Thumbnail image for NFL_roethlisberger4.jpgEarlier Wednesday night, we noted that ESPN has finally decided to start covering the Ben Roethlisberger civil case.

Now the network wants to explain their decision. ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer sent PFT a statement Wednesday night detailing the network’s position. 

“Based on the sensitive nature of the story and other factors we mentioned, we initially exercised caution and did not report it,” the statement reads.

“Since then, we’ve been observing how the story has progressed, monitoring other news outlets, and doing our own reporting. We decided to report the story tonight.”

The hot button issue has inspired more than 850 comments in less than three hours on ESPN’s AP article about Roethlisberger, most of which aren’t worldwide leader friendly.

The network says they aren’t just caving to public pressure, but made the decision because they feel “it is the right thing to do.”

We wondered earlier what changed Wednesday night and Hofheimer has an answer.

“It is not one specific thing. The criminal news today is part of the ongoing evolution of the story we’ve been monitoring. We will lead our reports tonight about this with that news, that there will be no criminal investigation into the allegations.”

In a PFT first, our fearless leader Mr. Florio requested to be quoted with his response.  From a Green Day concert.

“They are twisting the facts,” Florio writes.  “The story is not that there will be no investigation.  It’s that there won’t be one absent a criminal complaint.”

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53 Responses to “ESPN explains position on Roethlisberger”
  1. hayward giablommi says: Jul 22, 2009 11:01 PM

    “Based on the sensitive nature of the story and other factors we mentioned, we initially exercised caution and did not report it,”
    ^^^^^
    I see. Perhaps this has something to do with ESPN learning from that one time they reportied lies and fabrications from a disgruntled former Patriots employee who decided he would sabotage the franchise on the eve of the biggest game in franchise history. Yeah, uh, probably not.

  2. GO BROWNS! says: Jul 22, 2009 11:02 PM

    the first they report is a story that looks good for ben, whats with espn?

  3. JPeezy says: Jul 22, 2009 11:10 PM

    Funny Florio, there is a link to an NBC article just to the right of this blurb on your site that says almost word for word what the ESPN article says.
    Why not take issue with NBC saying “Law won’t probe Roethlisberger rape accusation”.
    Hippocrate much???

  4. Insomniac says: Jul 22, 2009 11:10 PM

    Imagine that. They finally went with a story and used a nice headline, “No criminal look at Roethlisberger allegations”, that makes it seem like the allegation is probably false.

  5. MJA says: Jul 22, 2009 11:11 PM

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter. No matter what your opinion in regards to the validity of the civil suit, this is news. If this happened to a Senator, do you think CNN would ignore it? No! Because a news organization is supposed to tell me the news and present the facts, not decide whats “good news” and whats “bad news”.
    ESPN needs to get out of bed with the athletes they cover, its starting to bite them in the ass and its costing them their credibility.

  6. PDXNinerfan says: Jul 22, 2009 11:12 PM

    Great quote by Florio, he’s right.
    Somebody mentioned that Cowherd name-dropped PFT a lot today…which he never has done when I listen. At lunch today, Dan Patrick was talking specifically about ESPN not reporting (did Mike go on?). I don’t think ESPN caved because of PFT, they caved because of the heat from other journalists that read PFT. You guys pour it on thick at times (much more lately), but congrats…you’ve arrived and not because of NBC.
    (That said, please get comments back up on the mobile site ASAP and the ratings system. Also, think about puttin gpictures next to your names in the headline so people quit bashing/mistaking Gregg, Aaron, et.al. as Florio.)

  7. Shackman v2.0 says: Jul 22, 2009 11:18 PM

    How can tWWL expect anyone to take this manure pile of an excuse seriously? They’ve managed to make themselves laughing stocks in media circles. The new ombudsman, Don Ohlmeyer, doesn’t even have to much research at all for his first installment.

  8. hayward giablommi says: Jul 22, 2009 11:26 PM

    Appears ESPN’s coverup is becoming more of a story than the story.
    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/sports/20090722_Gonzo___Roethlisberger_s_pass.html
    http://www.nbcwashington.com/sports/football/ESPN-Still-Ignoring-Big-Ben-Story.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/23/sports/football/23espn.html
    By the way, 20 minutes into Sportscenter and not a word about Roethlisberger.
    Shame, ESPN.
    Shame.

  9. arosen36 says: Jul 22, 2009 11:28 PM

    espns filled with american idiots

  10. Raider Pride says: Jul 22, 2009 11:37 PM

    Florio was at a Green Day Concert?
    X5dF6Sj3WYo

  11. Hillbilly Coach says: Jul 22, 2009 11:38 PM

    Thanks to ESPN for letting us know that they will decide what we should know only when they feel like it.
    Hey Hofheimer! Stick it!

  12. jimd2022 says: Jul 22, 2009 11:42 PM

    I guarantee if it was Terrell Owens in a civil trial, ESPN would have reported it. It’s called bias towards certain athletes. I’ll bet if this happened to Brett Favre, they wouldn’t have reported it either.
    What a joke ESPN has become.

  13. jtkbigk77 says: Jul 22, 2009 11:49 PM

    i’m seriously done with ESPN, it’s obviously impossible to completly boycott, but they have no legitmacy as a sports “news” outlet. There’s no reason to watch sportscenter as far as im concerned. This is just the final straw in so many things that are wrong with espn as far as how they cover things and what they cover.

  14. pvt. winslow says: Jul 22, 2009 11:53 PM

    Dear Florio,
    Please jump into the mosh pit at the Green Day concert and take multiple blows to the head.
    Regards,
    Worldwide Leader
    ps – are there even mosh pits at green day concerts?

  15. drew2400 says: Jul 22, 2009 11:56 PM

    The story isn’t whether or not he did what he has been accused of. The story is that the Super Bowl winning qb was sued for sexual assault. You would think that that would be newsworthy for a network that devotes 5+ channels to 24 hr sports coverage. Did the story somehow not make the cut on such an exclusive forum?

  16. TheVillain112 says: Jul 23, 2009 12:09 AM

    Heard ESPN reporting on the story during Sportscenter.
    Basically they mentioned three things:
    1. No criminal investigation (Trying to downplay the seriousness of the charges)
    2. She is seeking 400K+ for medical expenses and an unknown amount in punitive damages. (Trying the make the girl out to be a gold digger)
    3. Ben’s attorney states “Ben has never assaulted anyone” (Should has used the whole quote, which didn’t sound as well)
    Basically all the comments were slanted against the alleged victim.

  17. fc1_87 says: Jul 23, 2009 12:19 AM

    Use to be a time when media outlets reported the news. Not becoming the news.
    True or not, just the fact that the suit was filed should have been news worthy enough to report.
    No one was asking them to take sides. At least not that I heard. I’m sure if that happened they would have mentioned it.

  18. Keepdoinwork says: Jul 23, 2009 1:17 AM

    It’s such a sad statement about our perception of the media when people admonish ESPN for not immediately jumping on a story before examining the source, which is apparently the present state of journalism. Let us attempt to return to a state of reporting where authors actually review the facts, not just do a google search of a story and report it as true. This woman has claimed she was raped, but didn’t report anything until almost a year later….good for espn for not publishing her claim, and only making the story known when the police department said they won’t investigate until she reports an assault. We need to get away from the TMZ culture that has dominated, where an allegation is more powerful than the truth. The media needs to take a long, hard look at itself…

  19. SteelersSB44 says: Jul 23, 2009 1:50 AM

    “Funny Florio, there is a link to an NBC article just to the right of this blurb on your site that says almost word for word what the ESPN article says.
    Why not take issue with NBC saying “Law won’t probe Roethlisberger rape accusation”.
    Hippocrate much???”
    Couldn’t agree more…For whatever reason Florio is obsessed with ESPN not covering this story, then when they do, he accuses ESPN for “twisting words.” Apparently now twisting words mean stating facts because that’s all ESPN was doing. It is a fact that the state of Nevada isn’t going to seek a criminal case against Roethlisberger. How is it twisting something when it’s factual? I guess when it’s ESPN, and Florio is upset because they didn’t run the story when he wanted them to, or when he broke it… Sorry mikey, didn’t know the world had to revolve around you…

  20. Gautam says: Jul 23, 2009 1:50 AM

    So I’m discussing this with a friend of mine and he nonchantly says that it is a case of racism. Keep reporting sh*t done by black guys and keep quiet when an elite white guy faces any allegations.
    Then I gave him the example of Jared Allen whose drinking problems were covered(at least they made it to the news). He didn’t have an answer to it but to be honest, his initial statement got me thinking.
    Rape or no rape, the so called worldwide leader’s image has taken a battering. That’s for sure.

  21. SteelersSB44 says: Jul 23, 2009 1:59 AM

    “It’s such a sad statement about our perception of the media when people admonish ESPN for not immediately jumping on a story before examining the source, which is apparently the present state of journalism. Let us attempt to return to a state of reporting where authors actually review the facts, not just do a google search of a story and report it as true. This woman has claimed she was raped, but didn’t report anything until almost a year later….good for espn for not publishing her claim, and only making the story known when the police department said they won’t investigate until she reports an assault. We need to get away from the TMZ culture that has dominated, where an allegation is more powerful than the truth. The media needs to take a long, hard look at itself…”–keepdoinwork
    Great post! Let’s not forget the facts of the case while we’re bashing ESPN…Florio and many of his drones on here are letting the allegations outweigh the truth. If it comes out that Ben raped this chick, like I said before, I’ll be right there with y’all calling him Rapistberger, or whatever clever nickname you brainiacs will come up with. 90% of the posters on here want him to be guilty either because they don’t like the Steelers, or because they’re fans of players who’ve done some dirt. Stick to the facts, and if you’re so against ESPN Florio, stop reporting on them every 20 minutes like a 3rd grade tattle-tail. From where I stand, them not reporting it, will give your site some business…

  22. MJA says: Jul 23, 2009 2:05 AM

    @Keepdoingwork
    Its more than an allegation, she filed a civil suit, which automatically in my opinion makes it newsworthy. Its not like TMZ found some random women on the street and she said “Yea, Ben touched me in the no-no place and performed a ‘QB Dive’ into my end zone”.
    The validity of the civil suit is irrelevant, the fact that there is civil suit at all makes this news worthy.
    (I’m not saying Big Ben is guilty, there is no way we can tell anything at this point about the case until more information comes out. However, the question of this being newsworthy is an unquestionable yes).

  23. Rezen says: Jul 23, 2009 2:42 AM

    lol @ Keepdoinwork’s comment:

    Keepdoinwork wrote:It’s such a sad statement about our perception of the media when people admonish ESPN for not immediately jumping on a story before examining the source, which is apparently the present state of journalism. Let us attempt to return to a state of reporting where authors actually review the facts, not just do a google search of a story and report it as true. This woman has claimed she was raped, but didn’t report anything until almost a year later….good for espn for not publishing her claim, and only making the story known when the police department said they won’t investigate until she reports an assault. We need to get away from the TMZ culture that has dominated, where an allegation is more powerful than the truth. The media needs to take a long, hard look at itself…

    So basically what you’re saying, is that it doesn’t matter whether or not Big Ben is being sued (for the slow people, like Keepdoinwork: he IS being sued)… but whether or not he did it? Are you also saying that Michael Vick shouldn’t have been in the news until he was convicted? What about Pacman Jones? Dante Stallworth? Are you saying that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” should completely ignore any and all criminal and/or civil suit news regarding athletes until such time that said athlete is convicted and/or found to be responsible by a court?

  24. syge says: Jul 23, 2009 2:51 AM

    I agree with Keepdoinwork.
    I also think it’s pretty obvious Florio is doing his best to blow this up and get as much attention as he can…it has little to do with any honorable journalistic principles.
    Sensationalist garbage.
    Mainstream news might as well be tabloids at this point…that’s pretty much the quality of Florio’s reporting.
    I’m no conservative, but Florio is also a liberal douchebag who probably wants to defame a QB who campaigned for McCain.

  25. Poo Flinging Monkey says: Jul 23, 2009 3:26 AM

    I think ESPN’s attempts to protect Roethlisberger have less to do with race, and more to do with culture. After all, Ben is the biggest Jewish name in sports.

  26. maddencurse2010 says: Jul 23, 2009 3:26 AM

    Ironically I saw a Roethlisberger Fat Head commercial on ESPN2. Good job ESPN.

  27. BP says: Jul 23, 2009 3:50 AM

    Keepdoinwork, you’re pulling our leg right?
    Getting sued for rape is news! It should be reported day one. And if it is found frivolous that should be reported as well. Whatever the conclusion it should be reported. Calling espn’s stonewalling it good journalism is crazy talk.
    And espn headlining that it is not being investigated is pure bias. The news is, a lawsuit was filed. The news is not, that a criminal complaint was not filed. That is a detail of the story. The FCC should take away espn’s license for being anal.

  28. The Wishbone says: Jul 23, 2009 4:18 AM

    “They are twisting the facts,” Florio writes. “The story is not that there will be no investigation. It’s that there won’t be one absent a criminal complaint.”
    Apparently in Florio’s world of hairsplitting rhetoric he thinks this is “twisting the facts”. But it’s simple. There is no criminal investigation. PERIOD. When a woman is raped by a pro athlete there is a criminal investigation. Nobody waits a year and then decides to press the issue. She’s using a civil court because you don’t need much proof there, just some emotion.
    Case in point: Orenthal James Simpson. No proof in criminal trial: Not Guilty. No proof in civil trial: guilty.

  29. promichael says: Jul 23, 2009 6:20 AM

    Ms. McNulty and her attorney are pleased that
    ESPN has decided to make them more credible
    by reporting the story. There is a story here but
    it should be to all star athletes. Beware of the
    Gold Diggers. To wait a year for allegations to
    be formerly reported is not credible. Getting
    statements from the Harrah’s Las Vegas
    personnel would make waiting a year easier
    to comprehend. However the police did that
    already. I don’t think a civil suit will allow for
    a second criminal invesigation based on the
    hearsay in the civil suit. Once again the story
    here is that star athletes need to watch out
    for Gold Diggers.

  30. Benny says: Jul 23, 2009 6:25 AM

    I think it’s funny that they’ve almost written as many articles explaining themselves than of the actual story itself.

  31. The People's DJ says: Jul 23, 2009 6:33 AM

    Well its 6:30 AM and nothing so far on ESPN Radio.
    Oh wait. Mike and Mike are talking about it. Lets see how long that goes.
    Well that didn’t last long. Maybe minute and a haft. Guess its not a big deal. Bunch of asshats.

  32. EdgarSnyder says: Jul 23, 2009 6:35 AM

    espn is 600 lb gorilla, they do what they want.
    a stupid smelly gorilla that dumb people stare at for hours a day.

  33. ernie cohen says: Jul 23, 2009 6:58 AM

    I was of two minds about the ESPN noncoverage until I realized that there is a simple test of whether something should be covered by ESPN: they should cover anything that is likely to change the outcome of athletic contests. This obviously qualifies.

  34. gwinn1952 says: Jul 23, 2009 7:00 AM

    First of all: I as a sports fan am tired of reading about athletes getting into trouble or even allegations of trouble. It seems to me that there has to be more to the sports world than what appears on PFT or ESPN etc. Whatever happened to the good stories…the guys who are the role models in what they accomplish each day…the ones who live life by the book.
    It seems to me it shouldn’t have been a story until he is actually charged or the girl is charged for false story….then it should be one story not a different article every hour that says pretty much what all the other previous articles stated. (ex McNair).
    To tell you the truth…..give me all the Brett Farve stories over any athlete getting into trouble or preceived trouble.

  35. LuvThatDirtyWatah says: Jul 23, 2009 7:18 AM

    I’m not one to play the race card seeing I’m a WASP, but did ESPN give the same leeway to the Kobe Bryant story a few years ago? Now that should be investigated…….now if only investigative journalism was alive and well.

  36. tt0074958 says: Jul 23, 2009 7:45 AM

    “The hot button issue has inspired more than 850 comments in less than three hours on ESPN’s AP article about Roethlisberger, most of which aren’t worldwide leader friendly.”
    Congratulations, PFT. You’ve been successful in siccing your flying monkeys after ESPN. It’s a good thing you’re not real journalists, otherwise we might be concerned about your ethics, or lack thereof.

  37. matttheweiss says: Jul 23, 2009 8:22 AM

    ESPN is ridiculous.. I can only imagine the headlines if theis were happening to a Bengals player. They would be making jokes calling the whole team criminals (when they havent had anyone in trouble for almost 2 years) and only becuase its the Steelers they dont’ want to make anyone on certain teams look bad. If your on the PAts, Steelers or Cowboys you can basically do what you want. It is ridiculous and they need to start punishing players on these teams like they do the Bengals or any of the smaller market teams.

  38. dawgpound says: Jul 23, 2009 8:31 AM

    Hilarious. Quick blurb about the case on a Sportscenter break from Mike and Mike on espn2. Followed immediately by a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial starring none other than: Ben Roethlisberger. Beating up a bunch of guys nonetheless. ha

  39. Raiders757 says: Jul 23, 2009 8:43 AM

    @ tt0074958
    “You’ve been successful in siccing your flying monkeys after ESPN. It’s a good thing you’re not real journalists, otherwise we might be concerned about your ethics, or lack thereof.”
    The sad part about all of this, is that Mike and company are better than what ESPN considers “real journalists”. That’s not saying much, but it damn sure says a lot about how sad ESPN has become. They have been dumbing down their viewers for ages now with their unprofessionaly biased bullshit.

  40. FootballGiant says: Jul 23, 2009 8:43 AM

    I will say this, Had it been Tony Romo it would have been the lead story for ESPN. They would be questioning his committment to the Dallas Cowboys. They lead with Romo and his vacation to Mexico, but don’t even report a rape allegation against a two time superbowl champion.

  41. Poo Flinging Monkey says: Jul 23, 2009 8:44 AM

    I have to wonder how many posters on this thread are shills for ESPN? Protect your baby, boys.

  42. Matt says: Jul 23, 2009 8:48 AM

    By the by, Florio …
    Next time you go to a GREEN DAY concert, probably just want to keep that one to yourself, pal. It’s embarrassing. Keep up the sensationalist garbage.

  43. Matt says: Jul 23, 2009 9:02 AM

    Like when Wilson hit his girlfriend and it was definitely on ESPN (as it should have been)? Or when Holmes and his weed charge got covered (as it should have been)?
    The only reason that a Bengals player would be any bit more likely to get coverage on such behavior is because it would be the only thing related to the Bengals actually worth talking about. Not a good way to sell your point, pal.
    “ESPN is ridiculous.. I can only imagine the headlines if theis were happening to a Bengals player. They would be making jokes calling the whole team criminals (when they havent had anyone in trouble for almost 2 years) and only becuase its the Steelers they dont’ want to make anyone on certain teams look bad. If your on the PAts, Steelers or Cowboys you can basically do what you want. It is ridiculous and they need to start punishing players on these teams like they do the Bengals or any of the smaller market teams. “

  44. empty13 says: Jul 23, 2009 9:05 AM

    espIn

  45. HailtotheRedskins says: Jul 23, 2009 9:10 AM

    Amazing…I dont recall ESPN using this type of discretion in cases before. I love you Big Ben but ESPN needs to treat you the way they treat the rest of the athletes in the world.

  46. Whododrums says: Jul 23, 2009 9:35 AM

    Why don’t ESPN go show some spelling bee, dog show or something and leave the sports up to everyone else.

  47. GarthBrooks says: Jul 23, 2009 9:49 AM

    It would have been better if they said nothing at all. For one, they cut off the quote from the lawyer, where he says “Ben did not sexually assault anyone, especially McNaulty” Yea, when you throw in the “especially” part, it is an odd quote. Secondly, they say no criminal investigation is going to happen, but omit the fact that SHE has to initiate it for it to happen, not merely that the police don’t think it is worth investigating.
    The lawsuit cites many times in which this woman was basically told to shut up because no one would believe her over Big Ben. ESPN is actually doing this woman a favor by showing even an entire network is willing to come to his side before all the facts are out.

  48. PirateFreedom says: Jul 23, 2009 9:54 AM

    A different standard for super bowl winning quarterbacks that will be very useful to your business in the future is sensible.

  49. TasteTheSteel says: Jul 23, 2009 10:02 AM

    News flash!!! I was sexually assaulted by every athlete on the planet. I have no physical evidence, just my story that I’ve had a year to come up with. I’m not all there mentally, but hey maybe this can get me some money. If only all of you morons were athletes I would accuse you too just b/c I can. I’m so crazy that instead of screaming for help, I warned all of my rapists that I wasn’t on birth control because I was concerned that they were not wearing a condom. That being the case I had all of the DNA evidence I would need to have a criminal case, but hey I’m a moron just like all of you.

  50. winkel33 says: Jul 23, 2009 10:23 AM

    This is the same thing ESPN did with the story from last year about Favre talking to the Lions – they ignored it for days until finally they could spin it in a way that was favorable to the player.
    Here, it looks like there is a lot of credibility issues with the woman’s complaint against Roethlisberger. That doesn’t mean when the story broke, they couldn’t print the story and highlight these issues, and even highlight Roethlisberger’s denials. But to ignore it for days, makes me wonder what other stories does ESPN sit on that maybe we don’t know about, and why?
    And of course, if that had been T.O. or Chad Johnson being accused, do you think ESPN shows such restraint? Absolutely not.

  51. RAPERBERGER says: Jul 23, 2009 10:44 AM

    Let’s cut to the chase–Ben laid the pipe to a humanoid that most of us wouldn’t touch with a fishing pole. It is widely known that Ben is not a smart feller–if there is any doubt look at this undermencshen Ben popped!!!
    To me, this is less about “he said, it said…” than it is further confirmation that Ben is as dumb as the sod in Heinz Field. Nail her again ketchup brain!!!!!

  52. jsdavis48076 says: Jul 23, 2009 10:45 AM

    Why not report the facts and let viewers make up their minds? I was if ESPN is kind of gunshy due to the Duke rape case. They went nuts with that story and it blew up in everybody’s face. I think that most folks who heard the story made up their minds that the suit has issues.

  53. DonkeyRider says: Jul 23, 2009 11:06 AM

    I am sitting here suffering through “The Herd” on espn and Colin Cowherd is pissing all over himself explaining how he and espn are held to a higher standard, and have a higher burden of obligation to make sure a story is true before they air it.
    What a crock of shit! He goes on to say that all those local radio guys and bloggers talk about the Rothlisberger story because they have a lower journalistic standard.
    Cowherd is a damned hack. He concluded with two thoughts. First all the internet bloggers and local radio guys are jealous because they don’t work at espn. Second, espn has a long history of doing “it” the best and will be around long after the “other places” close up.
    After the break he came back and said how they played a clip of the LeBron dunk that they found on Ebaumsworld.com Ha Ha!! What an asshat.

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